Friday, September 10, 2010

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Who visits a rhododendron garden when it's not spring bloom time? Me - and a few of my walking friends.

It's been years since I went to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, but we were walking the Reed College canyon and decided on a whim to stop in. There's a $3 charge in summer (Labor Day was the last day) but whatever money they've been taking in has apparently contributed to major revitalization of the garden. New construction was evident everywhere, from paths and bridges to ramps and beautiful rock walls.

Directly above us at the entry was a stately pine with little green cones.

This simple concrete wall is enhanced by a bright green vine growing up over it.

Across the lake is Westmoreland golf course. We speculated on the health of the water with all the fertilizers and herbicides from the greens care that likely drain into it.

A tiny patch of cyclamen. There were a few confused rhodies blooming, but primarily we saw more seasonal bloomers.

Crystal Springs wouldn't be complete without ducks - and, of course, the ubiquitous Canada geese. (Will somebody please tell them it's past time to go back to Canada?)

Native plants were everywhere around the fringes of the garden, including this snowberry.

And this mullein. I think it sneaked in, though, because there were a lot of little seedlings scattered near it.

Tiny strawberries hid under their own leaves.

In an older part of the garden, campanulas were planted with huge-leaved primroses.

I've never seen such healthy looking primroses in what still felt like the middle of summer.

Rhodendrons are the focus of this garden and I'm not overwhelmed by most rhodies. They do have their place in my garden, but I like them as background or as structural elements. And in mid-summer, they aren't always at their best. 

But just look at the gorgeous form of this large specimen.

Its bark is a beautiful, slightly mottled cinnamon color.

There are at least three waterfalls in the garden. They're lovely, cool focal points.

This little rhododendron impeditum was blooming away. Now this is a rhodie I love.

Zaushneria was everywhere but I didn't see any hummers partaking.

Another confused rhodie.

Hostas were thriving in the deep shade cast by some large rhododendrons.

I was told this delicious lime-green variety was "Sum and Substance". Longview Ranch needs one!

Underplantings of pulmonaria were looking fairly healthy aside from a little slug damage.

Several areas had hewn rocks and boulders nicely arranged and planted on a big scale.

I like this mixture of the pine with grasses trailing in the pond.

This long, curving wall had wonderful niches for ferns of every kind.

I liked the concept a lot, but I found the overall spacing of the ferns a little static. I hope it's relatively new and the ferns will become more irregular and more interesting as they mature.

This sleepy duck was unfazed as I came close to snap her. I couldn't resist: she looked so warm and comfy in the sunshine.

A handsome gunnera with a pool to itself.

A close-up of a small waterfall to the left of the gunnera.

After leaving the garden, we walked north to Hopworks Urban Brewery on Powell for a late lunch. It was packed, so I had plenty of time to admire the novel planters out front while we waited for a table.

These keg planters are the perfect accent for a pub, and a pub was the perfect place to relax with friends on a sunny, post-walk, Labor Day afternoon.